Meet cute. We’ve all seen them in movies, particularly of the rom-com genre. Two characters come together in some adorable, unexpected way. It might be amusing or quirky, getting them talking as they go about their days.
Drew Barrymore’s character is playing with her waffles, and Adam Sandler’s swoops in to fix the door of the waffle house she’s constructed with her utensils. Maybe a drink is spilled. Two characters’ hotel rooms get mixed up and they interact in the switching.
I tend to like the explanation of the meet cute device in the 2006 movie “The Holiday” by the veteran Hollywood screenwriter who befriends Kate Winslet.
It’s how two characters meet in a movie. Say a man and a woman both need something to sleep in, and they both go to the same mens pajama department. And the man says to the salesman: “I just need bottoms’. The woman says: “just need a top”. They look at each other, and that’s the meet cute.
Well, I recently had somewhat of a meet cute in life, my real life since I’m not a movie character.
I was sitting and reading in a park, head mostly down in my pages except for noticing passing walkers from time to time. I spotted a tall, good-looking man in a flannel shirt and then a few minutes later, when all the seats in the area surrounding the park’s fountain were taken except for one, the handsome flannel man sat beside me.
Settling down on the bench he pulled out fries and a burger from a bag of delicious-smelling food. My stomach growled, I hadn’t eaten since the morning and before my head could go through any smart utterances, I turned to him.
“Oh no, that’s going to make me really hungry.”
“You can have some of my fries. Here,” he said handing over the heavenly, golden potatoes.
I said no.
Soon, we were having a lovely chat. First about our shared love for burgers. Who makes the best in the area? Is Shake Shack over-hyped? From there we moved to talk of traveling. Flanneled man entranced me with stories of his recent adventures through Montana.
“Are there people there, or just buffalo?” I asked, still not thinking before making comments.
He laughed, seemingly enjoying my randomness.
We moved on to jobs and tales of his habit of crashing think-tank and university events in which speakers tout their books and snacks are served to guests free of charge.
The meeting part was changing over into cute, and I could feel a chemistry building up with this stranger. It had gone from nothing to something palpable in a hurry.
“What are you doing now? Do you want to get a drink?” he asked me.
I did. I really did. My phone died, and I had no inkling of wha time it was. Who cared? It was a Sunday night, and I was in the moment. Our night got downright quirky when we went to a watering hole with a stressed bartender who first ignored our hopes of being poured a beverage. Then we became his confidantes. I believe they call this a role reversal.
My new partner-in-crime and I, after fixing the bartender’s woes, checked out an Irish bar and, over Smithwicks, he shared with me his photography hobby and specific photos he’d taken over the years that he was proud of. He wondered how to transition from picture-taking in his spare time to making his work sellable. I offered to help.
Dare I say it? It felt like a movie. We were building plans and things we’d do to assist each other.
Then, he was off into the night, heading in the opposite direction from me, but not before asking for my number, embracing me and whispering to me that I had made his burger-eating so much better and that this had been great. A screenwriter couldn’t have crafted a better goodbye scene.
In that way that women do in rom coms, I trotted to my apartment on a cloud, grinning foolishly.
And then something very unmovie-like happened. He didn’t call. He didn’t text. I reached for the scant bits of information I knew about him. Government agency where he worked. Neighborhod where he lived. “Wait, he mentioned his last name. It started with a C. It was Italian.” I wanted to use any detective skills I possessed to track him down and live out another night. Besides, it didn’t make sense. Why had he asked for my number if he planned to ignore it? Why move our meet cute to other sets?
Then, I stopped myself. In meet cutes, they always meet again. Or if they don’t, it’s justified as “not meant to be” and a stepping stone to the real soul mate later in the plot. Whether I liked it or not, maybe the man in flannel and I are resigned to that fate.